BISMARCK - Xcel Energy is planning to refund North Dakota electric customers almost $9.8 million due to the tax cuts Congress passed last year.

The North Dakota Public Service Commission notified the public of the opportunity to have a hearing on a proposed settlement agreement Wednesday, Oct. 10. The Minneapolis-based company estimated residential customers would see an average one-time refund of $46, and PSC officials expected it would come sometime next year.

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The agreement also prohibits Xcel from increasing electric rates before 2021 in lieu of additional refunds from the tax cuts, which were backed by Republicans in Congress and President Donald Trump. The legislation reduced the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, among other changes.

"We are pleased to have an agreement in place to deliver tax reform benefits to our North Dakota customers that will also benefit the state's economy," Chris Clark, Xcel's president for Minnesota and the Dakotas, said in a statement. "We believe this is a good package for our customers and are hopeful the commission will approve it later this year."

Xcel has about 95,000 electric customers in North Dakota, a spokesman said.

Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak, a Republican, called for a hearing to learn more about the agreement.

"I just have some reservations about making this many decisions extending that far into the future for (Xcel) based on very little discussion and interaction or formal evidence from the company," she said.

A separate settlement agreement focusing on Xcel's natural gas customers has also yet to be a finalized.